Last free COVID-19 testing in 2020

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

This year’s last free coronavirus testing was held at the Wharton Civic Center on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

OakBend Medical Center announced on Thursday, Dec. 24 that it received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine at 10:30 a.m. that day.

OakBend didn’t waste any time moving on this major development.

Linda Drummond, who is OakBend’s Public Relations director, said personnel began administering the vaccine to its “first tier” front –line staff and CEO Joe Freudenberger at 1 p.m. that day.

She said OakBend was scheduled to do 50 shots on the first day.

“Once the front-line workers have received their vaccine, the hospital will begin immediately scheduling local fire departments and other healthcare workers,” Drummond said. The news release that was sent to the Wharton Journal-Spectator did not show if this meant only Fort Bend County or if Wharton County was included, since there is a campus in Wharton.

OakBend is headquartered in Fort Bend County.

“We will be offering Wharton first responders the shots also,” Drummond said.

The Journal-Spectator reached out the next day to Coordinator Andy Kirkland, of the Wharton County Office of Emergency Management; Anthony Abbott, of the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department; Terry Lynch, of the Wharton Police Department; and Sheriff Shannon Srubar, of the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office to see if any of them had been contacted about vaccinations.

Abbott said the Wharton VFD should be hearing about this “any day now.”

Srubar added: “In working with the (OEM), the WCSO has received information that the possibility of receiving the vaccine is possible for those that choose to receive it (first responders). Keep in mind, we have no confirmation of timing nor confirmation of priority disbursement of the vaccine in Wharton County. I will continue to work and communicate with Emergency Management on this topic.”

Kirkland and Lynch could not be reached for comment by deadline on Christmas Eve. Visit the WJS website ( for an updated story.

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